Caen is the historical capital of Normandy and an important point on the tourist map of the region. The castle now houses the Normandy Museum, and there are many memorabilia from World War II in the area.
The city was founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. He built here his castle and two monasteries, a male monastery and a female monastery. Both have survived to this day and are a testament to the development of Romanesque and Gothic art in this part of Europe.
The castle of Caen is surrounded by massive walls with fortified gates, Porte des Champs and Porte Saint-Pierre. Caen has been the object of Franco-English rivalry for several centuries and has repeatedly opposed the invasions and sieges in its history.
The city has preserved Romanesque-Gothic churches, the Church of St. Stephen's in the male monastery, church of St. Peter and Church of the Savior. Many historic tenement houses, mainly from the 16th century, can be found on Rue Saint-Pierre, while Saint-Sauveur Square presents the later, neoclassical and eclectic buildings of the 18th century.
In 1944, the Caen area was the scene of bloody fighting during the Allied landing on the beaches of Normandy. A large part of the city's buildings were destroyed during several days of shelling and a siege. To commemorate these events, the Mémorial de Caen, an educational center and museum about armed conflicts and the pursuit of peace, was opened in 1988.
In addition to the Normandy Museum, Caen also has the Museum of Fine Arts and the remarkable Museum of Introduction to Nature. For those seeking relaxation in the midst of greenery, the city offers the Botanical Garden and Park Colline aux Oiseaux.